Your Social Media Policy & the Nude Celebrity Photo Scandal

You’re thinking, “come on…this is headline bait. How can these two topics be even remotely connected?” This Venn diagram depicting Internet privacy (created by Dave Hoffman) is our answer.

No, you and your fellow employees are not celebrities. Celebrities are subjected to an unfortunate level of attention. And in this case, a hacker pulled the celebrity photos from password-protected iCloud accounts and not social media. But there are some relevant takeaways from this unfortunate scandal you can apply to you and your company’s social media policy.

1) Simplest Approach: If you don’t want someone knowing about it…don’t put it online. Snapchat is rendered useless via a screen grab. The Secret app isn’t really secret. Yet I always get “what if” questions from folks running through a Byzantine list of privacy settings that they think will keep them safe from prying eyes. Well, if it’s online, it’s just not 100 percent safe.

2) Short & Simple Policy: If you can say it to your Mom and your competitor, it’s probably safe to say online.

3) Go With Your Gut: If you’re asking, “should I post this?” Your gut instinct may be a red flag. So check first.

Training Must Follow Policy

And one more reason the nude celebrity photo scandal is related to your social media policy is training. A social media policy spells out everything you can’t do, but you better be showing employees what they can do. Many employees will not understand the subtleties of certain platforms. If you don’t walk them through the platforms you want them to use, and how you want them to use it, the odds are they’ll be used incorrectly, if at all.

Kevin Dugan, @prblog

Headline Clickbait: PR Science or PR Fail?

A scan of current events this morning brought me to a news story angering me enough that I didn’t need my morning coffee.

Couple Killed After Posting Sunset Picture to Instagram

To be clear, it’s not the (tragic, local news) story that aggravated me. It’s the misleading, headline clickbait that pulled me into the article. I’m interested in Instagram, and the odd nature of the headline lead me to believe it was being served up by The Onion. It’s not a parody story. So I’ve re-written it below for accuracy.

Couple Killed THREE HOURS After
Posting Sunset Picture to Instagram.

My re-write wouldn’t draw in readers. But it may make you wonder why someone would point out this ironic, but completely unrelated, fact in the headline.

The Headline That Cried Click (see what I did there?)

Sites like Buzzfeed, Upworthy and Viral Nova are pretty polarizing. They’ve even inspired spoof headline generators and entire parody sites trying to tap into the craze simply by mocking it.

Love them or hate these traffic-magnet, sharing-fueled sites, Google analytics proves that headline clickbait works. But even Upworthy is acknowledging its an issue. The site announced it’s “on a mission to cleanse the web of content that exists primarily to be clicked on or shared.”

No, I’m not suggesting you avoid proven best practices around headline generation. I followed three myself for this post’s headline.

I am pleading with you to consider the bigger picture behind any tactic. I’m willing to bet that whatever the goal is behind content you’re publishing, you’d prefer to establish an ongoing connection with the audience your content attracts.

Tricks for Clicks

Or ignore me and follow Time’s lead. This once iconic, news magazine’s Twitter bio reads: “Breaking news and current events from around the globe.” And they’re publishing headlines like “Watch a Baby’s Face Sour While Eating A Lemon” and “Here’s a Half-Naked Man Wearing 100 Pounds of Bees like a Coat.” It’s embarrassing to see them chase someone else’s success. And it’s costing them their hard-earned credibility in the process.

Tricks for clicks may get you a short-term increase in traffic. But it won’t build audience in the long-term. If you’re worried you won’t attract readers without headline clickbait? Either spend money on headline syndication or come to grips with the fact that your content might suck.

Kevin Dugan, @prblog

Image via xkcd

Twitter Civics 101: What It Is & Why You Should Care

The most common question we hear from clients these days is, “How can we maximize Twitter?” Many giant companies went the route of letting the kids (literally) handle arguably their most visible and direct public face this summer, some with disastrous results. But that’s just not the way. The lesson is simple: Twitter is a communication vehicle. It is relatively new, but it is not a flash in the pan. It’s not just for the kids and Lady Gaga or Yoko Ono. And it isn’t just about what you had for breakfast. Just as one would never staff engineering or sales departments with interns alone, treating social media (more on Facebook in future but same rule applies) as a quantitative proposition alone is a sure path to disaster. To understand a communication vehicle, we need to come to grips with what it is and how it works—then figure out how to use it to support business objectives. We’ll address the first one here.

Twitter is Public

The single most important element everyone in your organization needs to know about Twitter is that almost everything on it is available to everyone in the wide world. What your brand—and that means your management—say on Twitter therefore affects your whole company. Some folks—journalists and those working in politics are perfect examples—try to get around this by having employees put in their profiles that their posts are personal rather than professional. This can work for some, but not for the people listed on the Management page of your website. Make no mistake: As a communications professional, it is your responsibility to understand Twitter and (take a seat for this revelation) make sure everyone in your organization does, too. If you don’t get how this works, for the love of whatever you believe in, ask for some advice!

Twitter is Mainstream

With social media, numbers are always tricky. Number of registered users? Active users? Visitors? Impressions? Twinkies? Twitter’s numbers don’t matter. Let me repeat that: Twitter’s numbers don’t matter. By any measure, there are a few more than millions of people on Twitter. Name a media outlet with a reach of more than a million that’s not important to your brand. (Crickets) Exactly.

Twitter is Two-Way…if you want it to be

The best way to understand the interactions on Twitter is to think of it like walking into your family doctor’s waiting room. By definition, you have something in common with everyone there and yet the specifics are likely entirely different. You might be there for a regular physical while the person next to you is suffering from acute appendicitis. But you’re both there for a reason related to health. Just because you’re in the same waiting room, though, doesn’t mean you necessarily want to talk with anyone—or everyone. You can read that fascinating article about Bennifer from the August, 2003 issue of People or you can choose to strike up a conversation either in response to something you overhear or because you like someone’s shoes. If you do start chatting, just about everything you say will be audible to all your co-waiters. If you start that conversation and the guy across the room over-listens and wants to participate, he’ll jump right in. Just like Twitter.

Twitter has its Own Language

Sure there’s Twitter jargon—hashtag, stream, @ reply, DM, auto-DM, feed—but keep in mind that specific communities within Twitter have their own language as well, necessitated by its 140-character format. For example, I read a lot of crime fiction, and I interact with lots of others who do. We talk about our TBR pile and #fridayreads.

Twitter is All Free

This is not a duh. Its nature is such that it is tempting to put Twitter in advertising terms, but this is as problematic as reading The Communist Manifesto to comprehend democracy. Or trying to understand American government without reading the U.S. Constitution. Have you noticed I still haven’t told you how to get more followers? Yeah, and I’m not going to—not today. I want you to keep anticipating what I say next…just like on Twitter. Oh and for the record, anyone who tells you there’s a formula for Twitter success is a fake guru and is just as misguided as those who suggest that pay-for-play is a viable model for effective media relations. On that, I step down from my box. Questions? Email or tweet @erinfaye.